Reflections of the Psalms – Psalm 52

Posted on: April 23rd, 2017

In working at a job, or dealing with people, there are many things that can be a source of aggravation; but one of the worst situations is the person that talks against another person behind his, or her, back. There is an expression for such a person -“a back-stabber”.

The reasons behind such a person’s actions are varied. It may happen because a person is trying to advance no matter who is hurt. A person may try to hurt another because of jealousy or envy. It may happen as revenge against a real, or imagined, insult. There are many reasons, but one thing is clear. The actions of such a person are ALWAYS contrary to the actions that God expects of people – especially Christians.

The role of the “back-stabber” is not limited to the modern world. The wife of an Egyptian official slandered Joseph unjustly. Often, people murmured against Moses in the wilderness. Many powerful people spoke against Jesus. Paul was accused on several occasions of not really being an Apostle. Many of David’s psalms spoke of the intrigues that occurred in his court.

According to the preface to Psalm 52, David wrote the psalm after a man had betrayed him, and then that same man had killed many people just to advance his own cause with King Saul. When David fled from Saul, he went to Nob and sought help from a priest named Ahimelech. Not knowing that David was a fugitive, Ahimelech assisted David and his men. Doeg, an Edomite and servant of Saul, witnessed the event. Later, when Saul confronted Ahimelech and his family, Doeg accused them and Saul ordered that they be killed. No one would obey the king except Doeg. He killed 85 priests because one of them helped David. Apparently, when David heard of the terrible deed, he vented his great anger in his psalm to the Lord.

In verses 1-5, David wrote, “Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The lovingkindness of God endures all day long. Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit.
You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking what is right. Selah. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. But God will break you down forever; He will snatch you up and tear you away from your tent, and uproot you from the land of the living. Selah.”

Although the psalm was written about one man’s terrible act, the principles would apply to any similar situation in any age. The key point of the psalm is that a person guilty of treachery, gossip, or verbal abuse will face the judgment of God. In verse 5, David wrote, “Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin; He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.”

When a person is hurt by the malicious actions of another, that person feels anger, outrage, frustration, and betrayal. Such emotions are to be expected, but then the thought begins to grow to “get even”. Any thoughts of revenge must be avoided because it is contrary to the standard of conduct that the Lord expects from His people.

“Turn the other cheek” is a tall order to follow when a malicious gossip is busy or a verbal “knife” has been stuck in the back. However, as difficult as forgiveness may seem, it has nothing to do with the authority of Jesus’ statement. Jesus never seemed to take offense at what was said about Him. He only became angry at stubborn unbelief and irreverence for God’s holiness and will.

Peter wrote, in 1 Peter 2:18-20, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps…”

Peter is NOT saying to submit to everything. Christians can certainly exercise their rights as citizens. On more than occasion, Paul exercised his rights as a Roman Citizen. Christians are expected to be obedient to God and His will. But personal attacks do not give a Christian permission to automatically strike out.

The reason why a Christian should be able to deal with such attacks without striking back is that the Lord will eventually deal with the problem. Remember, something good may come from the incident. One day, the person guilty of such deeds may see their error, repent, and become a valuable worker for the Lord. On the other hand, if a person does not change, they will answer to the righteous judgment of God.

So, in the face of verbal attacks or injury, the “pay back” is to left with the Lord. A Christians’ responsibility is to grow from the experience, and insure that he, or she, does not fall into sinful practices as well. Two wrongs have never made a right. David knew that and ended his psalm by writing, “I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.”

Jim Shelburn